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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 March 2007, 16:33 GMT
Sale 19-29 Leicester
Leicester's Alesana Tuilagi
Tuilagi played a key role in Leicester's victory over Sale

Sale (3) 19
Tries: Chabal, I Fernandez Lobbe
Pens: Larrechea, Thomas 2

Leicester (13) 29
Tries: Tuilagi, Hipkiss
Cons: Goode 2
Pens: Burke 2, Goode 3

Leicester held their nerve to defeat Sale and reach the final of the EDF Energy Cup in Cardiff on Saturday.

The superb Alesana Tuilagi crossed for the Tigers in the first half and then set up a try for Danny Hipkiss after the break at the Millennium Stadium.

Fly-half Andy Goode's kicking proved crucial, converting both tries, as well as three penalties and a drop-goal.

Sebastien Chabal and Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe both went over for tries for Sale but they found Leicester too strong.

Daniel Larrechea and Paul Burke exchanged early penalties before Burke extended Leicester's advantage with another penalty on 26 minutes.

Andrew Sheridan was sin-binned on 37 minutes and his absence sparked what had been a dull game into life.

From a line-out, Leicester played the ball out wide, allowing Tuilagi to shake off the tackle from Larrechea and power his way over the line.

Sale's Oriol Ripol gets past Leicester's Paul Burke
Sale's Oriol Ripol gets past Leicester's Paul Burke

With Goode adding the extras, it gave Leicester a 10-point interval lead and they looked well in command although Martin Corry was forced off late in the half with an elbow injury.

Within a minute of the restart, Sale were back in contention when Chabal went on a surging run up the right wing and crossed for a try.

Larrechea missed the conversion and was then substituted with a wrist injury. In his absence, Lee Thomas cut the gap for Sale with another penalty only for Goode to respond.

But Leicester exerted their authority again and they were helped when referee Nigel Owens awarded them a controversial penalty after an apparent infringement by Chabal.

Goode was successful only for Thomas to cut the lead once more to make it 19-14 but Tuilagi showed his magic once again, racing through the Sale defence and passing to Danny Hipkiss for a try, converted by Goode.

Sale threatened a brief comeback when Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe scored a try with 10 minutes to go but Goode had the final say with a drop-goal to seal the win which keeps his side in the hunt for three trophies this season.

However, Leicester could be without captain Martin Corry for next week's clash with Stade Francais after he suffered an elbow injury.

  • Leicester coach Pat Howard:
    "We are on course for the treble and that is our goal. "Everyone will get excited with that sort of thing but it will all be finished if we don't come up with a win next weekend.

    "It's not easy but we are going to try and fight on all three fronts because we are a big club and we want to have goals that are very high. That is where we stand."

  • Sale boss Philippe Saint-Andre:
    "We are disappointed. We challenged them for 75 minutes but they were very good in the contact area.

    "We needed to pass the ball wide more but couldn't. Leicester deserved to win.

    "A week off will be best for my players to be physically and mentally fresh for the next league game against Leicester at home because we need to get some points.

    "We need a minimum of one win from Leicester at home, Bath at home and Harlequins away."

    Sale: Laharrague, Robinson, Sevealai'i, Bell, Ripol, Larrechea, Wigglesworth, Sheridan, Bruno, Turner, C. Jones, Schofield, J. Fernandez Lobbe, Lund, Chabal.
    Replacements: Titterrell, Evans, I. Fernandez Lobbe, Cox, Foden, Thomas, Mayor.

    Leicester: G. Murphy, Varndell, Hipkiss, Gibson, A. Tuilagi, Burke, Ellis, Corry, Moody, Jennings, Kay, L. Deacon, Holford, Chuter, Ayerza.
    Replacements: Hickie, Moreno, T. Croft, B. Deacon, F. Murphy, Goode, Rabeni.

    Referee: Nigel Owens (WRFU)

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